He’s pitched in the Majors, now he’s going in the Hall.
The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame announced this week Juneau’s Chad Bentz will be one of its four newest members come an induction ceremony in the spring.
Bentz, who was born with an incompletely formed right hand, was multi-sport star at Juneau-Douglas High School who went on to log 40 career Major League Baseball appearances.
“It was an unexpected surprise,” Bentz said Friday morning. “I’m very humbled to be just in the same category of those other athletes or other people that were up for it. I learned a lot about people I never knew about. They did a lot of special things and to just be part of that group of people is an honor in itself.”
"It was an unexpected surprise," Bentz said. "I'm very humbled to be just in the same category of those other athletes or other people that were up for it.” pic.twitter.com/3vsMLlXTew
— Empire Sports (@akempiresports) December 14, 2018
The 38-year-old is one of just three Alaskans to reach the Majors. Bentz tallied 18 strikeouts and a 5.86 ERA over 29.2 innings with the Montreal Expos and Florida Marlins in the mid-2000s. The hard-throwing lefty spent the majority of his professional career in the minor leagues, earning an 11-20 record while playing in almost 200 games.
Bentz later played NCAA Division III football at Castleton State in Vermont. He moved back to Juneau four years ago and is now the JDHS activities director.
Around 50 Alaskans — including former NHL and NFL players — were listed on this year’s ballot. Throughout the month of November, the public could rank their top five people and top three moments and events for consideration. Nearly 2,000 people participated in the vote this year, which was then reviewed by a nine-member selection panel.
Eagle River’s Corey Cogdell-Unrein, two-time Olympics bronze medalist in trap shooting, will also be inducted into the hall.
The Alaska Run for Women and Kodiak High School’s upset of East Anchorage in the 2001 high school state title game were also voted in as events and moments, respectively.
NBA star Carlos Boozer and Olympic downhill skier Hilary Lindh, both of Juneau, have already been enshrined in the hall. Boozer and Lindh were inducted in back-t0-back years in 2008 and 2009, respectively.
ASHOF executive director Harlow Robinson said Bentz’s career speaks for itself — just like Boozer’s and Lindh’s.
“His selection to be inducted is merited just on his ability alone as a standout, multi-star athlete and one of the most successful baseball players to ever come out of Alaska,” Robinson said. “When you add to that his disability and what he’s overcome, it really makes him a remarkable story. If it wasn’t for Jim Abbott, he would have been more of a national story.”
Abbott was the first player to make the Bigs without one of his hands.
The induction ceremony will take place in April at the Anchorage Museum.
• Contact sports reporter Nolin Ainsworth at 523-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Empire Sports on Twitter at @akempiresports.